herald

Friday 13 December 2019

New ticket system would cut delays, kill off Leap Card

ABT would speed up bus journeys and spell the end for Leap Cards, which are used on buses, trains and light rail
ABT would speed up bus journeys and spell the end for Leap Cards, which are used on buses, trains and light rail

Plans to upgrade public transport ticketing could see the Leap Card being replaced by 2027.

The National Transport Auth- ority (NTA) is negotiating to introduce an Account Based Ticketing (ABT) system across the bus, rail and light railway network.

This will allow passengers to pay for their journeys using mobile phones, bank cards or official ID card or passport, removing the need to carry a special card or cash.

ABT will validate payments through contactless debit and credit cards, including Apple Pay and Google Pay, while there are also plans to introduce equipment to accept QR codes and electronic tokens.

Congestion

The NTA said passengers using cash to pay for journeys was the second biggest cause of delays after traffic congestion.

A spokesman said cash payments accounted for up to 20pc of all journeys.

"Even with Leap Card, the complexity of stages means a large percentage of passengers have to interact with the driver with resultant delays at bus stops," he said.

"This is due to the fact that the NTA does not currently have a flat fare and operates a tag-on only system."

He claimed delays caused by such interactions on busy routes added significantly to journey times on some services.

The NTA is also examining using Bluetooth or location-based technologies that will not require commuters to tag on or off when using public transport.

The NTA said it was looking at a possible future "Be-In-Be-Out-Model" that would track a commuter on their journey to determine the fare without the need to place any card near a validation machine.

ABT is regarded as partic- ularly beneficial for foreign tourists wanting to use public transport as it removes the need for them to source a smart card.

It is estimated that ABT will bring about the end of existing smart cards within a decade.

Transport for London is already allowing commuters to use a system for contactless payments as an alternative to the popular Oyster card.

Although its introduction was around 10 years behind target and over-budget, the Leap Card scheme has proved popular, with fares up to 30pc cheaper than paying cash.

More than three million Leap Cards have been sold since the €55m smart card system was introduced in December 2011, with transactions worth more than €320 million processed last year - up nearly 16pc on 2017.

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